The Accidental Fast – Background

This is Part 1 of 4 of my Accidental Fast series.

A few weeks ago, as I stumbled out the door on my way to catch the bus to work, I noticed that Kevin had left a fried egg on the stove, an English muffin in the toaster, and a mug of coffee by the door (i.e., the contents of his usual breakfast). I giggled (typical Kevin) and then felt sorry for him, knowing he would be sitting at work with an empty stomach.

When I texted him about it, he told me he had forgotten his breakfast and had decided to fast for two days.

For Kevin, this meant subsisting on only water and one cup of green tea per day for 48 hours. (If you know Kevin and his capacity for ingestion, this is laughable.) For me, it meant having to make my own dinner (i.e., throw cereal in a bowl).

Kevin handled his fast with grace and rigidity. He was less energetic and went to bed early, but he didn’t waiver, even when I tempted him with freshly baked Panera bread. (OK, so I ate out the night he didn’t cook! I’m guilty.) And he had a quiet peacefulness about him; he was less feisty and I won all the arguments.

When he broke his fast at dinner on the second evening, he made the most delicious tempeh I’ve ever had. He cooked it in soy sauce and onion dressing, then served it on a toasted yeast roll with caramelized onions and peppers and a Greek-ish yogurt sauce (can you tell I’m writing this whilst fasting?). It was amazing. The fast did wonders for his culinary creativity.

But it also was great for his ego (as if he needed help with that). Kevin thought he had mastered his existence. He walked around with his head a little higher, flaunting this new-found enlightenment that he had gained from only two days of fasting. I’ve never seen him more proud of himself.

While Kevin’s fast was certainly inspiring, it didn’t seem like something I wanted to do. I love to eat. I eat five to six times a day, and I use that fuel to keep myself in moderate shape. Denying my body the food it loves never seemed like an option.

Fast (pun definitely intended) forward to two weeks later. I was supposed to have a lunch meeting, for which lunch would be provided, so I did not pack anything. But then the meeting was cancelled, leaving me lunch-less. As I was complaining about this to Kevin, he suggested his signature two-day fast. We chatted about how to do it and what to imbibe, and then I asked him, “So when you felt hungry, you just ate water?” To which Kevin replied:

No. I consumed the cosmic energy of the universe.

Cosmic energy, part of a balanced fast. Yum.

(I think he was kidding, but I also think he was partly serious…)

At first, I really, really did not want to fast, and I came up with plenty of excuses as to why right now was not a good time: I had three boring meetings to get through (and no one can do that on an empty stomach); I ride the bus so being hungry will be unsafe because I have to walk a lot (and sometimes run); I’m supposed to go out for drinks with friends tonight; we are in the middle of some construction on our house and have things to do.

But then my first fasting revelation hit me: there is never a “right time.” There is always “life” to get through. Like with most honorable pursuits, you have to consciously make a way, even when it seems impossible.

So I decided to try it.

The only experience I had with fasting up to this point was the I’m-too-depressed-to-eat fast I completed after every breakup, where I ate my feelings instead of food and, without fail, lost about 10 pounds. Usually, my mother or a friend would force me to eat, but the lack of appetite meant I only nibbled at food, but I still ate, technically.

Kevin left me with one more bit of advice:

Just watch out for sharts.

Fantastic. Good thing I wore black pants on Day 1.



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